Articles about "Koch brothers"


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Yet another NYT digital tier?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Another NYT subscription tier? Lucia Moses reports: “According to a survey sent to readers this week, the new offering would give users 30 articles a month for $8, over 45 percent lower than the current cheapest offering.” (Digiday) | The Times has also floated the prospect of a shorter print edition in a survey, Joe Pompeo reported last week. (Capital) | The launch of its most recent digital products “has been anything but smooth.” (Poynter) | Sam Kirkland shows you how to save money on your NYT sub. (Poynter)
  2. Edward Snowden to stay longer in Russia: He got a three-year residence permit, his lawyer says. He’ll be able to travel abroad. (RT)
  3. Crowdfunding campaign to buy Murdoch U.K. papers: A group called Let’s Own the News hopes to raise £100 million (about $168 million) to buy the Times of London and The Sunday Times. “And why should Murdoch sell?” Roy Greenslade asks. “Evidently, because he would like to take a step forward for our democracy and to rejuvenate his public image after the phone hacking scandal.” (The Guardian) | Meanwhile, back on Earth: Speaking in a conference call about 21st Century Fox’s fourth quarter results, honcho Rupert Murdoch said, “we have no plans to go out on the acquisition trail.” (Associated Press) | Fox’s revenue was up 17 percent in the quarter. (21st Century Fox) | Flashback: Remember the crowdfunding campaign to buy Tribune’s newspapers so the Koch brothers couldn’t? (Bloomberg)
  4. Gannett’s newest “newsroom of the future”: “Reporters will always gripe about their editors, but if you suggest to almost any of them that they are better off without one, they will laugh at you,” Steve Cavendish writes about the planned reductions coming to The Tennessean, which will eliminate some middle managers. (Nashville Scene) | Gannett last launched a “newsroom of the future” in 2006. (Poynter/Romenesko) | The other Gannett “beta” newsrooms planning to institute changes: The Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, The Greenville (South Carolina) News, The Pensacola (Florida) News Journal, The Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times. (Poynter)
  5. ABC, NBC swap executives: “Rachel Maddow Show” executive producer Bill Wolff will become executive producer of ABC’s “The View.” “In return for NBC letting Wolff break his current long-term deal with the Peacock Network,” Don Kaplan writes, “ABC has agreed to free ESPN’s top programmer, Jamie Horowitz, who now can join NBC as general manager of ‘Today.’” (NYDN)
  6. Jim Brady’s Philly site gets a new name: Au revoir, Brother.ly. Hello Billy Penn. (Capital) | Brady: “Some people asked whether the site was going to be only for ‘bros,’ and whether it would cover women as well. Honestly, we didn’t worry too much about that.” (Billy Penn) | “Our website sounds too manly. I KNOW! LET’S NAME IT AFTER A MAN INSTEAD!” (@tylrfishr)
  7. Minority journalism grads have a harder time finding jobs: The University of Georgia’s annual study of journalism and mass comm grads showed journalists of color were less likely than whites to find a job in their chosen field, Richard Prince reports. (Maynard Institute) | “In addition to a slight tightening of the job market, the survey shows that salaries and benefits have also stagnated.” (Pew) | Median starting salaries at consumer magazines fell sharply from last year’s survey. (Poynter) | “Reality: It’s based on 12-17 students” (@TWallack)
  8. Iranian media says Washington Post journalist is a spy: Among the “evidence” of Jason Rezaian‘s perfidy to appear in reports: He purportedly co-directed an Iranian “Happy” video and follows The Huffington Post on Twitter. “While the accusations in the articles against Rezaian appear far-fetched, they are a worrying sign that the cases could be used to further a domestic political issue.” (Al-Monitor) | Anthony Bourdain interviewed Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, not long before they were arrested. (The Washington Post)
  9. 6 strategies publishers can use to make money off events: “The Chattanooga Times Free Press, a private company in Tennessee’s fourth-largest city, earned well into the seven digits off of just 12 events, making ‘direct events revenue’ 11 percent of its retail revenue.” (API)
  10. InStyle will reveal its September cover on Snapchat: Yep. (SocialTimes)
  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Bryan Rackleff will be creative director at Storyful. Previously, he was digital creative director at Comedy Central. (@raju) | Steven Kotok, chief executive of Dennis U.S., will leave the company. (Capital New York) | Tyson Evans, New York Times deputy editor of interactive news, and Jonathan Galinsky, a manager of strategy, will join the paper’s newsroom strategy team, according to a memo from Arthur Gregg Sulzberger. (Romenesko) | William Kole has been named New England news editor for the Associated Press. Previously, he was AP’s New England bureau chief. (AP) | Tom Berman will be Central region editor for the AP. He was most recently the acting editor for the region. (AP) | Job of the day: The Press of Atlantic City is looking for a news reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Forbes: Newhouses’ fortune increases

Advance Publications owners Donald and Samuel “Si” Newhouse added to their fortunes last year, Forbes reports in its annual list of America’s richest people. Forbes estimates Donald Newhouse’s net worth as $8.2 billion. It was $6.6 billion in the previous year’s list.

Si Newhouse placed a little higher, with a net worth of $8.9 billion. It placed him at $7.4 billion last year. Donald is the nation’s 52nd richest person, Forbes says (he was 51 last year) and Si is No. 46, the same spot he had the year before.

Other media types on the list: Read more

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New Newspaper Owners

Dodgers owner on Los Angeles Times: ‘If the price were right, I would buy it’

The Los Angeles Times

Dodgers owner Mark Walter says he’s interested in buying the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, “in part because he is interested in increasing the diversity and improving the quality of information available to the public,” Bill Shaikin writes.

“The Los Angeles Times says something,” Walter said before the Dodgers played the Boston Red Sox at Dodger Stadium. “It means something. It’s a brand. I think people have undervalued that. If the price were right, I would buy it.”

Walter is the CEO of Guggenheim Capital, LLC. Tribune Co., which owns both papers, has been exploring a sale of its newspaper properties but is said to prefer to sell them together. Some of its other newspapers are The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant and the Orlando Sentinel.

The billionaires Charles and David Koch were interested in buying Tribune’s papers but they abandoned negotiations. As a policy matter, we never comment about speculation regarding the company or any of its business units,” Tribune spokesperson Gary Weitman said about the Walter report via email.

Red Sox owner John Henry recently agreed to purchase The Boston Globe, and Tribune Co. used to own the Chicago Cubs. Poynter’s Rick Edmonds recently wrote that he had previously likened wealthy people buying newspapers to wealthy people buying sports franchises: “more fun than owning a bond and a high-visibility good deed for your community as well.” Read more

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Who abandoned negotiations first: Koch brothers or Tribune?

The Daily Caller | The Wrap | The New York Times | Los Angeles Times | Free Press

Charles and David Koch walked away from negotiations to buy Tribune Co.’s newspapers because digital assets like CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures wouldn’t convey with the sale, Josh Peterson reported in The Daily Caller Thursday afternoon.

“They’re basically such an important part of the revenue,” a “source with knowledge of the proceedings” told Peterson, “in a way that if they sold them, it goes away.”

Peterson says “both parties walked away from the negotiations” and a source tells him the Koch brothers lost interest “a couple months” ago. But “An executive close to the situation” told The Wrap’s Sara Morrison “Tribune stepped away from the idea of selling to the Koch brothers two months ago.” Read more

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Petitioners ask FCC to block Gannett-Belo deal

Free Press | Variety

Gannett and Belo are trying to get around FCC cross-ownership rules by transferring broadcast licenses to shell companies, Free Press and other groups say in a petition asking the FCC to block the companies’ planned merger.

Gannett announced in June it would buy Belo, making it the fourth-largest owner of major network affiliate stations. The company already owns many newspapers. Investors have cheered the deal.

Time Warner Cable, the American Cable Association and DirecTV have also filed a petition opposing part of the deal, Ted Johnson reports. Those entities say “the deal threatens to drive up retransmission fees and risk even more station blackouts in negotiation standoffs,” Johnson writes.

“These arrangements attempt to mask the true intent and effect of the transaction: to allow Gannett to simultaneously influence and control multiple media outlets in the same local market in a way that is contrary to the public interest and otherwise prohibited by the Commission’s rules,” Free Press’ petition (embedded below) says. Read more

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Chicago Sun Times Photographer Layoffs

Proposed Tribune split may be bad news for Sun-Times’ owner

Tribune announced Wednesday that it intends to split into two companies. So what does that mean for Tribune print properties and the entities that aim to acquire them?

Trouble for the Chicago Sun-Times’ owner: That’s according to Lynne Marek, who says Wrapports LLC’s hopes to buy The Chicago Tribune now appear more farfetched.

Tribune’s broadcasting arm would likely keep the newspaper division’s real estate and the company’s investments in digital assets like CareerBuilder, lowering the value of The Chicago Tribune and thus any price Wrapports might pay, but the move also appears to kick a newspaper sale down the road. And the Sun-Times is losing money right now.

The biggest financial concern for the company is the hefty $70 million a year it must pay a year to Chicago Tribune to print and distribute the Sun-Times papers. While the company has explored printing alternatives, its contract with its larger rival runs for about two more years. After that, Sun-Times would have leeway to explore less expensive options, even a reduction in printing.

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Parody site ‘Kochifies’ Los Angeles Times stories

Kochify the News

“Kochify the News” is part of a campaign by a group called Forecast the Facts to discourage Tribune Co. from selling its newspapers to the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch, who are reportedly considering their purchase.

The site mimics the look of the Los Angeles Times’ homepage, and if you click a story, its headline and deck change to what the activists say news would look like under the Kochs’ leadership.

A story titled “Part-Timers To Lose Pay Amid Health Act’s New Math,” for instance, becomes “Win-Win: Employees To Get Free Vacay While Being Saved From Obamacare.” “Lakers’ Pau Gasol Undergoes Knee Procedure” becomes “Sports: Current Health Care System Already Working Perfectly (for Millionaire Athletes)”

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Charles Koch: ‘There is a need for focus on real news’

The Wall Street Journal

Koch Industries is considering buying newspapers, Charles Koch tells The Wall Street Journal’s James R. Hagerty and William Launder:

“There is a need for focus on real news, not news with an agenda or not news that is really editorializing,” Mr. Koch said in an interview.

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Anti-Koch protesters rally in Beverly Hills

Los Angeles Times | Baltimore Brew | Huffington Post | Bloomberg

People upset by the possibility of Charles and David Koch buying Tribune’s newspapers held a rally in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, marching to Tribune Chairman Bruce Karsh’s home. “About 100″ people protested, Meg James reports.

“Every great city deserves a great newspaper. Here in Los Angeles, we need the L.A. Times to capture the local diversity of our voices, issues and our stories,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of Common Cause. “Honest, credible journalism is one of the most important keys to our democracy.”

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Koch Industries building

Koch brothers acquiring Tribune newspapers? I’d bet against it

I’m not a fan of speculating who will buy newspapers that are on the block. But I’ll make an exception with some quick thoughts on Tribune Co.’s publishing group — currently attracting investor interest as expected but likely months away from actually being sold.

The buzz has gotten buzzier with reports that David and Charles Koch are interested bidders and would infuse the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune with their conservative political agenda.

I don’t think that is very likely to happen for a simple reason. It would be a bad business move, running a high risk of alienating news staff, readers and advertisers. And say what you will about the Kochs’ big-money political offensives, these guys are supposed to be savvy businessmen, right?

Duke professor James T. Hamilton in his 2004 classic “All the News That’s Fit to Sell” applies economic theory to the industry and chose as his lead example the rise of nonpartisan newspapers in the late 19th century.

With new high-speed presses and the beginnings of a substantial advertising base, Hamilton explains, publishers figured out that they could add more readers and attract more brand advertisers by steering down the middle — moving away from open entanglement with political parties as had been the norm for the previous hundred years..

That still remains a sound business principle. Smart executives ranging from the late Al Neuharth to Warren Buffett get it and have said explicitly that they put their personal political views aside in running a chain of newspapers.  They let local publishers make the decisions on news coverage and editorial page endorsements.

Hamilton (using historical rather than contemporary data) identified a partial exemption to the non-partisan rule.  A Democrat or Republican paper could be successful if that matched the tilt of the community itself.

That would make Tribune papers a particularly poor match for the Koch brothers’ political activism. You would be hard-pressed to find two bluer cities than Los Angeles and Chicago.  Hartford, Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale are reliably Democratic as well.

If the Koch brothers have the newspaper bug, they would do better to try to acquire their hometown Wichita Eagle from McClatchy or make an offer for Lee Enterprises’ Wisconsin State Journal, the better to cheer on Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan.

Tribune would be a very expensive megaphone. And making metros financially viable is plenty difficult without the added negative of perceived partisanship.

Another dynamic in the sale is that Tribune’s bank and investment fund owners have said they would prefer to sell the publishing group (or possibly the whole company) in a single transaction. However some of the potential buyers, particularly in Los Angeles, are much more interested in a single title.

Figuring out the best deal when firm bids are in may extend the auction process, which typically takes six to nine months in the best of circumstances, well into the fall.

And there is a little noticed glitch for wealthy locals who may be hoping to do a good deed by buying the hometown paper and keeping its coverage strong. Tribune over the last three years has become an even more highly centralized company than before.

It was a leader in consolidating copy-editing and design functions at an editing hub, for instance producing most pages of the Newport News Daily Press from an operation in Chicago.  Much the same goes on with traditional business functions and development of digital products and ad sales strategies.

So new owners of one or several Tribune papers could face the challenge of what analyst Ken Doctor has called “de-consolidating.”  Re-creating the editorial and business functions that have just been pooled would be a step backward in expense control.

Finally, the well-chronicled antics and misadventures of former owner salty Sam Zell and his CEO radio-guy Randy Michaels may leave an impression that the company is in shambles after its long slog through bankruptcy court.  That is no longer accurate in my view.

Actually, leadership has been stable for two-and-a-half years under top executives Eddie Hartenstein in L.A. and Tony Hunter in Chicago, still in place for now. Tribune has been a full participant in the paywall trend and other forays into new revenue as well as carrying out aggressive subscription price increases.

I have heard several execs from competing companies praise the Chicago Tribune strategy of running blank pages in advance of raising rates to indicate that more foreign coverage and other editorial enhancements were in the works.

Another positive sign is that five of the eight Tribune papers had either winning or finalist entries in the most recent round of Pulitzer Prizes, announced a month ago.

Tribune’s rudimentary financial statements do not break out results of the publishing division. But the company as a whole was profitable to the tune of 10 percent on a net basis and much more considering just cash flow  — results comparable to Gannett’s.

So I would not totally dismiss CEO Peter Ligouri’s comment last week that owners may look over the bids and decide to keep the papers instead. (Reconfiguring Tribune as a television company — with its local stations , WGN cable network and a 30 percent stake in the Food Network — still seems the more likely outcome).

Meanwhile, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp as well as the Koch brothers in the wings as a potential bidder, the auction makes for great spectator sport. And it legitimately has several thousand news staffers wondering who they will be working for by the end of the year.

In that respect a reporter at one of Tribune’s papers told me last week that he and colleagues are getting teased that they need to be readying a multi-part series on why CO2 emissions are good for you.

Good joke, unlikely scenario. Read more

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